I love how hand stitching looks, and I love doing it. I got almost half way done with it, using a heart template. I marked the pattern on the quilt with the blue pen, which disappears after a few days or with washing.
|heart template for quilting|
But I have had carpal tunnel syndrome, and then arthritis, and so hand quilting became too much. The quilt sat in my room where I could touch and admire the colors and patterns, but not finish it. I was opposed to machine quilting. This was because I didn't think it looked as nice as hand stitches, and because I knew there were issues with the fabric bunching. I also have an old fashioned sense of time, believing that the longer something takes, the greater its value.
Eventually, after James turned two in January, and his brother's arrival approached (due February 20), I felt the need to complete James's quilt before starting one for his brother. I ordered a free motion sewing foot and practiced on scraps with top, batting and back, and felt ready to finish James's flying geese quilt with the machine.
The machine stitches are far from perfect. But when you look at the quilt from a distance, you really can't tell the difference. I hope I'll improve with practice.
In the photo below you can see the hand stitches on the right and the machine stitches on the left. I tried to follow hearts at least abstractly, not taking time to draw the template on the rest of the quilt, since I didn't know how easy it would be to follow the lines anyway!
|machine stitches on the left, hand stitches on the right|
I made continuous bias tape (instructions here) with one of the fabrics in the quilt. I made far more than I needed.
I sewed the binding first onto the back side of the quilt. Then I carefully folded over the edge and sewed it from the front, staying close to the original row of stitches on the back. There is a wonderful YouTube tutorial for sewing binding onto a quilt here.
In the photo above, you can see the variations in stitch length using the free motion quilt. If you go too slow, the stitches are too long. If you go too fast, the stitches are too short. You can also see here where I caught the fabric twice and bunched it with the machine! This is the only place I did this on the front, though there is a rather egregious instance of bunching on the back. I couldn't bear to take it out, which would have taken hours. When I told James's mommy about it, she told me that in art school, her weaving instructor told her that Native Americans said that mistakes in their crafts are where the soul resides. O! I do like thinking of my soul residing in that bunched up fabric in James's quilt.
By the way, I wore garden gloves to control the fabric, otherwise my fingers would have just slipped and slid along. I had to wash them first.
The whole quilt measures about 62 x 42". Though this photo is not straight, the quilt is.
|I call it "birds of the air" |
but it is traditionally called "flying geese"
|James being held by grammy's love|
The thing is, I still prefer hand stitched quilting. But the quilt is done! And James can enjoy it now.